Darjeeling, Sikkim and Bhutan by Road | 16 days
This overland journey leaves Delhi for the green terraces of Darjeeling’s tea gardens, where the Himalayas rise up in the distance. From here the road leads to Sikkim, a previously independent kingdom, which was only opened to foreigners in the early 1980s. The former kingdom contains a cultural mix of Tibetan, Mongolian, Nepalese and Indian people, superb landscapes with lush vegetation and up to 600 species of orchids in the lowland areas. As one of the least visited of all the Himalayan Kingdoms, Sikkim remains pristine in its environment and still retains an air of mystery. Visit a number of ancient monasteries before driving via Kalimpong to Bhutan’s southern border crossing at Phuntsholing and heading north to Thimphu, capital of Bhutan, where the imposing facade of Thimphu Dzong towers above the valley.
Day 1:Fly to Delhi
Day 2:Tour India’s capital city
Day 3:Train to Bagdogra
Day 4:Drive to Darjeeling, one of India’s foremost hill stations
Day 5:Travel back in time at Darjeeling’s gracious historic hotels
Day 6:Cross into Sikkim to arrive at Pemayangtse
Day 7:Drive to Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim
Day 8:Day in Gangtok
Day 9:Drive to Kalimpong
Day 10:Cross the border into Bhutan to arrive at Puntsholing
Day 11:Continue along winding and climbing roads to Thimphu, Bhutan’s capital
Day 12:Visit Thimphu’s National Library
Day 13:Drive to Paro
Day 14:Climb the steep hill to see the Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest) Monastery clinging to the cliff above the Paro valley
Day 15:Fly to Delhi
Day 16:Fly to London
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Fiona’s travel tips
FESTIVALS: Festival dates vary according to the lunar calendar, so all itineraries will be individually crafted.
MOST MEMORABLE EXPERIENCE: Having to abandon my vehicle due to a landslide and walk 10 very wet, dark kilometres through rainforest with only fireflies to guide the way.
TOP TIP: The interior of Bhutan’s monasteries are officially closed to foreigners. Combine Bhutan with Sikkim, where the monasteries are open to all, for an all-round appreciation.
DZONG DATA:Punakha Dzong was built in 1637 and was the scene of the coronation of the first King of Bhutan in 1907. Built in 1692 on a cliff in the upper Paro Valley, Taktsang Dzong is also known as the Tiger’s Nest Monastery.
JOURNEY TIME: 9 hours direct + 3 hours indirect
“The bespoke trip that Far Frontiers Travel organised for us was truly amazing. We travelled the length of Bhutan – ‘The Land of the Thunder Dragon’ - a real eye opener of a trip seeing a Himalayan country that was just on the verge of coming into the 21st Century from an almost Medieval lifestyle, after years of isolation from the rest of the world. We enjoyed a well-planned and organised trip and will never forget a fantastic holiday and experience.”Mr and Mrs Andrew Gale, Bhutan
“Eye-opening, exciting, enlightening, challenging, wonderful! A real adventure for the two of us, with some unexpected extras thrown in, like meeting the King and Queen of Bhutan! Everything worked like clockwork. All the right people were there at the right time to meet us, move us on, or take us somewhere - a great relief in strange countries.”Mr and Mrs Richard Watson, Bhutan and India
“My visit ended with a three day trek through the Gangtey Valley and time to reflect on my return to this wonderful country and its friendly open people, all made possible through Fiona and Far Frontiers Travel. Bhutan is truly magical and to anyone planning to go I would say, do it.”
Ian Stubbs, Nepal and BhutanPeter Fleming, Bayonets to Lhasa
“Fiona could not have been more helpful. Her knowledge and advice about Bhutan was invaluable in the planning of my trip and her perseverance with the Tibet situation was much appreciated.”
Sybil Johnson, Bhutan